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Cast Iron Pots/Skillets: Cleaning?
Old 04-19-2008, 11:15 AM   #1
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Cast Iron Pots/Skillets: Cleaning?

Somewhere I read if you run hot water over the back of your cast iron skillet, you can then take a paper towel and wipe the leftover food out cleanly if you have seasoned it enough.
I seasoned my skillets two times by putting Crisco all over the insides and turning the oven to 200 degrees for 8 hours as a site suggested on the net (some pro does this). Most times the wiping with a paper towel works, but not always.
How do most of you clean the stick from your cast iron pots and skillets? Just use soap and water? Does anyone know a way to clean them well when you have sticky foods leftover you cannot paper towel off (that doesn't require soap and water that will take the seasoning off)? Is there any other way to clean them that I am missing? I am trying to not destroy the film/seasoning that is on the coating of the pan/skillet, which soap and water will do.
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Old 04-19-2008, 11:49 AM   #2
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If the pan is still hot you can often just run a bit of water in and wipe out the inside. I prefer a more sanitary approach and use soap and water. The key is to not let it the pan sit in soap and water and to dry it immediately after washing. The seasoning seems to stay just fine.
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Old 04-19-2008, 11:52 AM   #3
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I run mine under hot water, scrub them gently with a fine metal brisle brush and if they're really gross, add a drop of dishsoap and keep scrubbing with the brush. Then I put it on the stove, low heat, and when its fully dry give it a squirt of Pam and wipe it out with a paper towel, then turn the pan over and wipe the bottom with the residual Pam on the towel. Back on the flame for 30 seconds and voila.
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Old 04-19-2008, 12:22 PM   #4
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If really yucky I put water in the pan and simmer for a few minutes. Clean with running water and a little kitchen scrub brush. Dry by setting on a med-warm burner and wipe with papertowel and 1 tsp veggie oil. Once a year or so to clean the outside I will leave in the oven when self-cleaning. The high heat cleans the outside, and then I grease it and put it in a 350 oven and shut it off. Perfect again!
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Old 04-19-2008, 12:46 PM   #5
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I am no kitchen expert, but I am a long time iron skillet cook. I never use soap, and have never had to to.

I wear rubber gloves, run really hot water into the skillet, and scrub with one of those stainless steel tuffies. Rinse with more hot water, dry the hot pan with a paper towel, and rub a little oil into it while it is still hot.

The pans are smooth as glass, and I never get rust or pits.

As far as sanitation, I preheat the pan so the I can't imagoine any bugs that would be dispatched by soap wouldn't be incinerated by the heat.

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Old 04-19-2008, 01:59 PM   #6
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The "film/seasoning" is actually the "filling up" of the pores in the metal. Running water (hot or cold) on or scrubbing the surface is not going to remove that. (or should not if it is properly "seasoned.") Soap or other "cleaning products," on the other hand, will soften the material and allow it to come loose, so don't...

Now, having said that, I have at times used a small amount of soap when I had trouble with a particularly "greasy" episode. A small amount and very quickly. In any event, the worst that can happen is you have to "season" the pan again -- time consuming but otherwise pretty painless.

After cleaning, I place the pan back onthe stove over high heat and leave just until the water completely evaporates -- that soothes my germ phobia.
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Old 04-19-2008, 02:24 PM   #7
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Fish is the worst sticker for me no matter how much butter I fry in, but I will buy a small metal bristle brush and try to clean it with just water. Soap seems to be the enemy--not water. If it just won't clean, guess you resort to soap then. Got it! Thanks!
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Old 04-19-2008, 02:29 PM   #8
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If the pan scmutz is not too bad, we just throw some kosher salt in it & scrub it with a paper towel.
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Old 04-19-2008, 04:36 PM   #9
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If something sticks, your pan is too hot, you didnt use enough oil or you didnt wait long enough to try to flip it. Once a crust forms, it'll usually release from the pan/grill.

And yep, coarse salt and oil are good cleaners.
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Old 04-19-2008, 05:24 PM   #10
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If the pan scmutz is not too bad, we just throw some kosher salt in it & scrub it with a paper towel.
That's what I always did - scrub the tough stuff with oil/more salt and a scrubber -never water.

Certain kinds of pots - Gumbo for instance were 'seasoned' thru several generations or so I heard. Not me - but one heard the stories.

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Old 04-19-2008, 07:03 PM   #11
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I've used soap and a scrubbie thing or steel wool for many years, and the pan is still great.
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Old 04-19-2008, 10:42 PM   #12
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I prefer a more sanitary approach and use soap and water. The key is to not let it the pan sit in soap and water and to dry it immediately after washing. The seasoning seems to stay just fine.
That's what we've done since I was a little kid on KP at home. After all the other dishes and pots and pans were washed, we'd dunk the CI skillet in the sink, and then use one of those plastic mesh scrubby-things (I think that's the technical name for them ). We did a quick rinse and then set it on the stove burner to completely dry it.

We use the same skillets today, and they've never had to be 're-seasoned' in all these years.....at least 50 years that I know of.

(I think the real secret has been using all that bacon grease. )
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Old 04-20-2008, 05:24 AM   #13
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The "film/seasoning" is actually the "filling up" of the pores in the metal. Running water (hot or cold) on or scrubbing the surface is not going to remove that. (or should not if it is properly "seasoned.") Soap or other "cleaning products," on the other hand, will soften the material and allow it to come loose, so don't...
That's pretty much what I always did for many years when I used a cast iron skillet. I would run very hot water in it, scrub lightly with a mesh plastic scrubbie thing like what Goonie used (I think it's called a Tuffie?), and then dry with a paper towel. Easy, since nothing stuck, and never had a need to re-season because I never used soap or cleanser on it.

(I don't use cast iron any more because they are just too heavy for me now as I get older.)
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Old 04-20-2008, 06:42 AM   #14
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Yup, hot water and a scrubber, usually no soap, but sometimes just a little on a very bad case. Never run cold water into a hot cast iron skillet...they can crack! When cleaned, heat on high to get rid of any water, oil (or Pam) lightly, and you are good to go.

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Old 04-20-2008, 08:20 AM   #15
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Wow..did I ever learn with this post. OK, I now know my problem is (being type A) cooking too hot. Never thought about cleaning with salt. Have Kosher and regular salt, and will use it now. Didn't know that cold water would crack cast iron! Makes sense. And am buying a plastic Tuffie at Walmart today. Thanks for all these great suggestions as the sticking problem was getting to be a drag. Now I see it is the way I cook with too high heat to begin with. Again, thanks all!!!!
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Old 04-20-2008, 09:17 AM   #16
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Now I see it is the way I cook with too high heat to begin with.
You may want to research this further. Unless you have a "commercial" grade stove, it will be pretty hard to cook with "too high heat." And even then... I, too, an a "type A" cook and have no issues similar to your complaint. Now, having said that, it is certainly possible to not regulate the heat properly for the item being cooked. The normal result of that, however, is a meal that everyone turns their nose up at not an uncleanable pan.

No body mentioned it but "seasoning" takes longer than coating the pan in oil and baking it an oven for a couple hours. That is only a "good start." Seasoning actually takes place over a long time based upon use -- that is why a well used 20-year old cast iron skillet is preferable to one that is only a year old. The "quicky" seasoning does, however, prevent the biggest problem with cast iron -- rust.
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Old 04-20-2008, 09:42 AM   #17
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Once in a blue moon I "fix" gravy in my "arn" skillet, which is the only time it needs more than a swipe with a paper towel. A quick "worsh", dry, and coating makes it good as new old...

I'm with Goonie; it's a bacon grease thang...
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Old 04-20-2008, 10:51 AM   #18
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Once in a blue moon I "fix" gravy in my "arn" skillet, which is the only time it needs more than a swipe with a paper towel. A quick "worsh", dry, and coating makes it good as new old...

I'm with Goonie; it's a bacon grease thang...
Lots of bacon grease, butter, and lard, on a daily basis over years... I can almost hear my arteries hardening, thinking about the way many Americans cooked a century ago.

My cast iron skillet was given to me in 1967 after decades of being seasoned, but I am not so sure you can get it that well seasoned quickly. You can get a good start on it, though. A well seasoned skillet looks and feels different to me than one that isn't, and of course the best test is cooking with it.
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Old 04-20-2008, 11:02 AM   #19
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Coat with oil and put in a gas grill upside down for about an hour. Then recoat it with oil and give it another hour or so at full blast.

You'll have a pretty good start.

By the way, from that deal I posted a while back of (4) 12" and (4) 8" cast iron pans for $20 and $16 respectively, I still havent unwrapped three of each...
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Old 04-20-2008, 04:31 PM   #20
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Sooo - has anyone here performed the stewed Okra in cast iron test.

The popular saying - don't cause the Okra will turn black - and others saying no if your pot is well 'seasoned.'

Sort of a cast iron Ford vs Chevy argument as it were.

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